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The SHOCKING TRUTH About Grant Writing REVEALED! Debunking Myths & Showing You How to Make THOUSANDS

If you have been following this channel, you will know that I’ve been a professional grant writer for a bit over 10 years. And I have to say, I’m really grateful that I enjoy what I do. But, unfortunately, there are quite a few negative biases that people have about grant writing as a profession.



Some think it is boring since they think grant writing is a tedious and monotonous job that involves sitting at a desk and writing proposals all day. They don’t think that grant writers have much creative freedom or room for innovation. Others think grant writing isn’t lucrative and that we don’t make a lot of money. And then there are some who think grant writing is not fulfilling and doesn’t positively impact the world because all grant writers do is just simply "push paper" around, right?

Well today, I’m going to DEBUNK all of these myths because they are very much – NOT TRUE! I’ll break down the pros and cons of the profession, the steps you should take if you are interested in this career, and how much you can actually make as a technical grant writer! Trust me, you’ll be shocked by the earning potential!


In case you are new here, Hi! I'm Stacy Chin from KeepYourEquity.co, and our mission is to help start-ups and businesses secure grant funding. We specialize in helping science and tech start-ups secure non-dilutive funding from federal programs such as the SBIR and STTR. If you’d like to learn more about the SBIR or STTR program, check out this link. We also consult with lots of other private and public businesses in healthcare, tech, energy, and military as well as NGOs to help secure grant funding to support projects that would make a huge impact to solve some of today’s biggest global challenges.


Last week, I posted the story of how I became a professional grant writer who works with early-stage science and tech start-ups. In case you have missed that one, you can find it here.


Just to recap, I shared that I never aspired to become a professional grant writer but I ended up really enjoying this profession! As a follow-up, today I want to share my experience of being a grant writer and some of the pros and cons of this profession. The Market Needs Technical Grant Writers

But before I get into the exciting details, I want to share why I think this is an important topic to chat about.


Since starting my grant writing firm, KeepYourEquity.co, I’ve had the pleasure of working with lots of talented technical founders on their non-dilutive fundraising strategies, as well as collaborating with other technical grant writers on projects. I’ve come to the realization, that there is a HUGE lack of technical grant writers, especially those with a strong research and commercialization background.


In my opinion, this is a huge issue especially nowadays where there are so many start-ups struggling to secure funding that have no idea how to go about the grant writing process. For those reasons, there is a HUGE market need for strong technical grant writers!


There are a few reasons for this gap, but I think there are two primary reasons. First, there are not many resources out there to showcase how to become a professional technical grant writer for science and tech start-ups! And second, as I mentioned in the intro, there are a lot of biases about being a professional grant writer.


For these reasons, I think it is important for me to debunk some of these myths so you can learn more about what goes behind the scenes a get a real look at what it is like to be a professional technical grant writer!


Pros & Cons of Being a Technical Start-Up Grant Writer


Alright, now into the good stuff! Let’s talk about the pros of being a technical start-up grant writer. These are from my experience, though I’m sure there are many others if you speak to others in the profession.



The Pros


I’ll start with the bright side of the profession.


Mentally Stimulating


First and foremost, the best thing about my job is the ability to work with and collaborate with so many fascinating Founders and start-up CEOs from many different industries. I’ve worked with academic professors from leading universities like Duke, Harvard, and MIT who want to spin out their research into a start-up. I’ve also worked with start-ups trying to innovate in the military or healthcare. And I have other clients developing clean energy technologies.


Because all my projects are so unique and exciting, I’m constantly learning about the various ways people are trying to solve big problems across every industry. This also means each strategy is unique and highly intellectually stimulating. They all have their own technical and go-to-market challenges which are always like a puzzle to solve! For those reasons, I never am bored! Trust me!


Fulfilling & Rewarding


This leads me to the second reason why I enjoy being a technical start-up grant writer which is because it is a highly fulling and rewarding profession. When early-stage science and tech start-ups are trying to fundraise, many of them find that outside investors are hesitant to invest in their start-ups especially if the project is just getting started and has not de-risked the early technical hurdles. So, these start-ups often turn to grant funding opportunities to help them prove their idea or to develop an MVP, or minimal viable product. XXX.


Grants can be the saving grace for many innovations with a global impact, so directly or indirectly, technical grant writers provide an opportunity for startups to change the world. Some of my most rewarding days are when start-up founders tell me they have successfully secured the grant! Just as much as this is a huge win for them, this is also a great win for me because this funding enables them to bring their innovations one step closer to the market allowing me to be fortunate enough to be a part of potential global change.


Flexibility


The third reason why I enjoy being a technical start-up grant writer is that this profession is flexible. Most of the time, I can dictate my own schedule and take breaks whenever I would like throughout the day. After working in this field for several years, I can also work on projects that are the most exciting to me and turn down others that may not be.


Earning Potential


Finally, the fourth reason is that contrary to common beliefs, being a technical grant writer can be quite lucrative, especially if you write grants for for-profit companies or start-ups.


Freelance technical grant writers can make anywhere from $50/hour all the way up to $300/hour depending on their history of success and years of experience in this space. I know of grant writers and small agencies that are making $300,000 per year and some others even close to $500,000 or even in the millions!


So there is absolutely money to be made in this space especially because there is a huge need for really good technical start-up grant writers in the current market!



The Cons


Now, these are all some great benefits of the profession, but it is only fair to talk about some of the cons of being a technical grant writer.


Deadline Pressures


Firstly, if I am in a heavy grant writing season, there may be times I’ll be working late or on weekends especially if there is a deadline right around the corner. There are times when you may have to wait on some last-minute items to come through, sometimes just a couple of hours right before the deadline which can be a bit quite stressful.


Requires Persistence


Another con is that you have to learn how to be persistent in the face of lots of rejections. Grant writing is competitive and frankly, there are a lot of variables that may be out of your control that influence whether or not your grant application gets awarded, even if you have written the best grant in the world!


So the best thing you can do is put your best foot forward, give your 110% effort, and keep going after different grant funding opportunities. Persistence is the key and the goal is to never give up!


A Lot of Sitting & Computer Work


Finally, another downside of grant writing is that you will be sitting at a desk for many, many hours typing and typing away at your grant. And I have to admit, there are times I am mentally drained and exhausted!


It is always super important to take breaks and to learn how to manage your time well so that you can get up, stretch, walk around, go to the gym, and make sure you take care of yourself. However, I do admit, when I am writing a grant, I usually get into a nice flow phase and the hours seem to go by quickly!


So with that, those are some of the pros and cons of being a professional technical grant writer in my experience. Now let’s move on to how to become a professional technical grant writer.



How To Become a Professional Technical Grant Writer


If you have a science or engineering background and want to learn how you can become a technical grant writer, there are a couple of things you can do to build up your skillset.


Learn to Conduct Research


First, learn how to conduct research. There are many ways you can go about this. You can go to grad school for a Master's or a Ph.D. in a research field of your interest. You could also conduct research in an academic or industry lab for a couple of years. Reading academic journals is advantageous, too.


If you are in an academic setting, you can also reach out to professors, grad students, or post-doc and offer to help them write, review, or do some background research to write grants. This is also a great way to expose yourself to how to craft strong hypotheses, conduct research studies, and translate these complex ideas on paper.


If you want to take it one step further and learn how to write grants for for-profit companies and start-ups, you will also need to learn about business and the start-up world.


Brush Up on Business 101


Start-ups are looking for free work and interns all the time so reach out to university innovation centers and start-up accelerators to see if you can provide value to any start-ups looking for help. This is an excellent way to become exposed to Business 101 and how to approach start-ups.


There are also so many resources online like digital classes and YouTube videos to help you learn the foundations. For example, I did an online program through Harvard Extension School to get more familiar with economics, accounting, and business management which I found to be incredibly helpful!


Just Start Practicing


And finally, the best way to learn how to become a technical grant writer is to simply start writing grants! You can do it yourself as an independent freelancer or you can also apply to work for a grant writing agency who are always looking for strong technical writers.


It is important to keep in mind that there is a science and an art to writing strong technical grants which takes time and experience to become really good at so the more you practice, the better you get!


Speaking of practice, I am thinking of eventually launching a coaching program to help scientists and engineers get into grant writing or to help technical grant writers improve their craft. Is this something you would be interested in? If so, please let me know in the comments below. Your feedback would be incredibly helpful!


Final Thoughts


Ultimately, these pros, cons, and advice are based on my experience. While you’ll find others that disagree, you never know whether you will like something until you try it yourself!


I just hope that this gives you a bit of clarity and things to consider about the professional grant writing profession. Many of the things you hear about it are not true, so if you are even a little bit interested, I encourage you to give it a try and let me know what you think!


And as always, even if you don’t want to become a professional grant writer yourself, make sure to check out our website at KeepYourEquity.co for resources and advice to help you and your start-up secure SBIR funding.

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